Everything-free chocolate cherry flapjacks

By flapjacks, I mean the UK word – the baked oat bar thingies. Not the US pancakes. Having had two facebook arguments (well, not arguments, but you know) in two days about the meaning of the word, I think that bears clarification. My American friend claimed these were ‘oatcakes’, but as any fule kno, oatcakes are flat savoury crackers that are generally served with cheese. Divided by a common language, indeed.

Anyway, continuing the theme of wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free &c &c &c, I decided that I’d make something that required actual baking in an actual oven. They were a birthday treat for my flatmate, so I thought a bit more effort than just some rice puffs was in order. I cobbled together several recipes to come up with this one, with appropriate adjustments.

You need:

150g vegetable fat (I used Trex)
80g soft brown sugar
80g golden syrup
Vanilla extract
250g oats
100g dried or glacé cherries, chopped into halves or quarters
50g plain chocolate, broken into small pieces.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C. Grease an 8 x 12 inch baking tin.

2 Melt the vegetable fat in a decent-sized saucepan (it has to be big enough to hold all the oats). Add the syrup and the sugar and heat gently until they’re melted. The fat and sugar may be a little reluctant to combine properly, but that’s fine. Once you stir the oats through, it all binds properly.

3 Remove the pan from the heat. Add about half the oats and mix well. Add some of the cherries, then more oats, then more cherries, until it’s all combined. Add the chocolate last. I hoped it would stay solid, but unlike chocolate chips, it doesn’t really keep it’s shape, so it will probably mostly melt through the mixture, but that’s more than fine. What’s not to like about chocolate all the way through?

4 Once the oat mixture is thoroughly coated, transfer it to the baking tin. Smooth the surface as much as possible with the back of a spoon, and bake for around 20 minutes.

5 When you remove it from the oven, the mixture will be bubbling and seem very liquidy, but that’s fine because it firms up as it sets. Let it cool for around 15 or 20 minutes, then slice into squares while in the tin and still warm. It’s soft enough that you can just use the round tip of a palette knife to do this (which also avoids scratching your tin). Let them cool a bit more, and then transfer to the fridge to chill, if you like. I also drizzled a bit more melted chocolate over the top, just because.

A very hurriedly staged photo taken before work so I could get the daylight looked like this:

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I didn’t add any salt to these, which is most unlike me, but I don’t think they needed it. Sometimes you just want something to be rich and chewy and soft, and these hit the target nicely. My flatmate’s verdict was that they ‘taste amazing! So happy I could cry’, which, as reviews go, is pretty positive.

He also ate too many in one go, which resulted in him doing this self-portrait, so perhaps pace yourselves, yeah?

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